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House Rules for my recently-terminated Solar campaign

Many of these rules were arrived at after long debate with Toram. There are some things I'd do differently in the future. Comments eagerly solicited; please follow the illustrated pattern.

  • The Exalted Power Combat rules are in use.
  • PCs are built with 35 Freebie Points instead of 15, plus 0–10 more Freebie Points assigned by the ST, for a total of 45 (3× the normal allotment). NPCs are built with 3× the normal amount of Freebie Points, whatever that may be for their type.
This was really a mistake: (1) I had to create another house rule to fix a problem it introduced (see the next rule); (2) it makes Heroic Mortals way too powerful. I should have let everyone start with 50 XP instead, even though that would have made character creation even more complicated than it already is. --MetalFatigue
  • Freebie points may not be used to increase more than one Ability to its maximum (normally 5). This restriction does not affect Attributes or Backgrounds, just Abilities.
Because of the stupid SoybeanTrading problems caused by the base points/freebie points/XP trichotomy in the Storyteller system, there's a pressure to spend your freebie points all in one place to maximize their relative efficiency over XP. This creates narrowly specialized characters with little room to grow. I didn't want that. -- MetalFatigue
  • [#appearance]Blaque's Appearance rules are in effect, with the following amendments:
    • The default Appearance effect is positive/attractive. To be ugly is a 3-point Social Flaw; this replaces the "Disfigured" Flaw listed on p. 32 of the Exalted Players' Guide. Players of Abyssal Exalts who wish their characters to become uglier when they increase their permanent Essence may add this Flaw to their characters after character creation, gaining 6 XP which must be used to offset the cost of raising the character's Appearance and/or Essence.
Being ugly is a Flaw because a beautiful character can still use Charisma to intimidate someone at no penalty, while an ugly character is probably going to take significant penalties to seduction rolls. --MetalFatigue
    • The 2-point version of the Merit "Innocuous" (EPG p. 22) requires an Appearance of 1 instead of 2.
    • Appearance (rather than Charisma or Manipulation) is used in all social rolls related to first impressions. In general, if you don't have a chance to interact with someone for at least a few minutes before rolling, you use Appearance. At Storyteller discretion, this may even affect rolls for Charm use.
  • All Exalts, Fair Folk and Mountain Folk get one free level of (the appropriate kind of) Ox-Body Technique at creation, in addition to their normal starting allotment of Charms. This free Charm is specifically exempt from any Ability (or Attribute) minima, though purchasing a second level requires the normal minimum (e.g., minimum Endurance of 2 for Solars). God-Bloods do not receive this benefit. Where more than one arrangement of bonus Health Levels is possible, the player chooses which form the free Charm takes.
Anything that everyone needs to get in order to survive should not count against their starting allowance, IMO. --MetalFatigue
  • For NPCs, adding a Virtue to a dice pool does not require spending temporary Willpower, and Virtue channels are restored each session instead of each story. For PCs, the Virtue-channeling rules (as well as the rule for regaining temporary Willpower based on Nature) are replaced by a port of the Spiritual Attribute system from The Riddle of Steel; seeMetalFatigue/SpiritualAttributes.
I tried using SAs for NPCs as well, but it was too much bookkeeping. --MetalFatigue
  • Each game morning, instead of rolling Conviction to regain temporary Willpower, you roll whatever your character's highest Virtue rating might be. It is possible to spend a temporary Willpower on this roll to get an automatic success.
My players don't need any more encouragement to play sociopaths. Spending a Willpower on your roll to regain Willpower is only useful if you have the SphereOfTheRevolutionaryDog, which one of the PCs does. --MetalFatigue
  • The Dawn, Zenith and Night Caste (and corresponding Abyssal) anima powers are amended as follows:
    • Dawn: spend 5 motes to reduce wound penalties by permanent Essence and cause fear as per the listed anima power.
    • Zenith: cost to turn undead/demons is reduced to 5 motes.
    • Night: cost to mute senses and make tracking more difficult is reduced to 5 motes.
  • The fourth through seventh dots of Linguistics grant two language families instead of one; the eighth and higher dots grant three language families per dot. Also, for the XP cost and training time of a specialty, you can buy an extra language family without increasing your Linguistics rating. Characters who can't double tens (such as normal mortals) can't purchase extra language families either. Heroic mortals and heroic ghosts can't purchase more than one extra language family.
  • Craft is treated similarly to Linguistics: instead of buying many different kinds of Craft, you know how to work in a certain number of media, and getting more dots of Craft increases your breadth as well as your skill in those media. You can use a medium you don't know at a -2 die penalty. Media are learned in exactly the same way as language families are learned for Linguistics (including the effects of the preceding rule). Craft Charms cannot generally be used to augment die rolls unless the character has actually learned the relevant Craft medium.
Since playing a handyman is less exciting than playing a master of all weapons, it should not cost more points. At one point, I had Performance segmented into media as well, but decided that creating more segmentation than existed in the canonical rules was a mistake. --MetalFatigue
  • Exalts may have as many specialties as desired for any Ability, but cannot take the same specialty on the same Ability more than three times, and cannot add more than one specialty to any roll. (If the character has multiple overlapping specialties that would apply, the player may point this out to the Storyteller in the hopes that he will reduce the difficulty of the roll.) Mortals and ghosts are still limited to one specialty per Ability.
This may have been a mistake. I'm still not sure. It increases average dice pools slightly; I can't decide whether that's good or bad. --MetalFatigue
Have you considered limiting people to 3 or their Perm Essence in specialities, not applying more than 3 etc. (Actually, if you want to be bothered with a bit more calculational complexity... (Essence×2)-1 gives a better spread of numbers... 1, 3, 5, 7, etc.) I also give the -1xp and no training time discount to favoured specialities, so just having any amount is probably not a good idea for me. --Darloth
  • Attack and defense rolls using the Brawl Ability are made using Strength+Brawl instead of Dexterity+Brawl.
It doesn't make sense to me why Brawl is even in the rules if it's not going to have any decent Charms. This rule makes Strength Increasing Exercise work as a persistent dice adder for Brawl, as well as increasing damage, which puts it almost on a level with Martial Arts (at low levels, anyway). --MetalFatigue
  • The off-hand penalty is annulled. Dual Slaying Stance, since it no longer cancels the off-hand penalty, reduces multiple action penalties by 3 instead of 2.
If helmets are a cosmetic choice, so is fighting with two weapons. --MetalFatigue
  • Piercing the Night's Veil Practice costs only 3 motes per scene instead of 5, and replaces Sensory Acuity Prana as the prerequisite for Owl-Eye Technique.
Unlike some posters, I have no objection to speedbumps in the Charm trees, as long as the speedbump Charms are useful by themselves; without this change there's no reason at all to buy PtNVP, and OET is a pretty powerful Charm to be that low in the tree. --MetalFatigue
  • Crack-Mending Technique fully repairs (including magic) one item light enough for the caster to lift. It will only recreate missing matter if more than 50% of the original material is present.
  • Incantation of Efficacious Restoration instantly and completely physically repairs any one item, but does not restore lost magic. The repairs will not extend more than Essence yards from the caster. It will only recreate missing matter if more than 50% of the original material is within that radius.
It seemed inappropriate that the epitome of the Solar Craft tree was inferior to a simple Terrestrial Spell. --Toram
  • Triple-Distance Attack Technique triples the weapon's range for all purposes, not just for range penalties.
  • There are permanent-duration Charms available to enhance a character's anima powers. The first tier of these Charms requires Essence 4+, at least four Caste abilities at 4+, and all Virtues at 2+. The details of specific Charms should be discussed with the Storyteller.
  • A character using a Form-type Martial Arts Charm may not use any Charms above the Form level from any other Martial Arts tree at the same time. A character using Prismatic Arrangement of Creation Form, or any similar magic, to activate multiple simultaneous Form-type Charms gains access to the higher-level Charms from all of those trees.
  • Bulwark Stance is Instant and Reflexive. Its effect lasts until the character takes a non-reflexive action.
This allows it to be comboed, which keeps it from being completely useless once FFBS is obtained. --Toram
  • The duration of Lightning Speed is Instant. Its effect lasts until the end of the turn, and affects both running and sprinting speeds.
  • The duration of Monkey Leap Technique is Instant.
  • Fists of Iron Technique is Reflexive, not Supplemental.
  • The cost of Foe-Vaulting Style is increased to 3 motes + 1 Willpower. It can be used more than once against a given opponent (assume that you're behind them before they have time to turn around). Also, it can be placed in a Combo with Charms of other Abilities. The cost of Flowing Evasion Assault is increased to 6 motes + 1 Willpower.
  • Attacks from behind may be defended against with stunts as well as Charms.
  • Reed in the Wind, Shadow Over Water, Seven Shadow Evasion, Uncanny Impulse Evasion, Flickering Wisp Technique and Flowing Evasion Assault may be activated after the attacker has rolled, just like Golden Essence Block and Dipping Swallow Defense.
  • The Magical Material bonus for artifact thrown weapons is identical to that for artifact archery weapons, except that bonuses to Range come in multiples of +10 yards instead of +50 yards (so orichalcum and jade grant +10 yards to Range, while moonsilver grants +20 yards).
  • The distances between demesnes are approximately double from what is listed in Savant and Sorcerer: 8-10 miles apart on average. The prevalences of different Demesne levels are revised to the following: Level 1, 50%; Level 2, 25%; Level 3, 15%; Level 4, 8%; Level 5, 2%.
Otherwise, there's just too many of them. --Toram
There are still a whole damn lot, which was clearly the intention of the designer, but now the average Exalted Dynast has only 3 hearthstones instead of 12 (assuming that half the Demesnes on the Blessed Isle are tied up in the Realm's defense grid). --MetalFatigue
  • Empty Stomach Fasting Meditation also eliminates the need for water, but has a minimum Endurance of 2. Ascetic Monk's Purification Discipline does not exist. Controlled Breathing Exercise does not require moving slowly.
These charms seemed underpowered. --Toram
  • The roll for Irresistible Questioning Technique is affected by Ten Magistrate Eyes, but under no circumstances can the character benefit from more successes than her Manipulation + Investigation. The roll is made secretly by the Storyteller; the Exalted who invoked the Charm does not know how many questions the target is forced to answer truthfully.

House Rules Suggested (and possibly rejected)

  • Reflexive charms may be added to a combo by paying the difference in cost.
Otherwise, people will delay buying combos until they have all the reflexives they'll ever want to put in them. It may be worth loosening the combo construction rules even more, but this would be a start. See more commentary in Discussions/ComboPeculiarities --Toram
My current opinion is that, if you guys felt strongly enough that you needed a combo or two to defeat the enemies you faced, you'd get them now despite the cost. Since you're not getting them, you obviously feel you don't really need them right now. --MetalFatigue
Immediate need isn't really a factor in combo purchasing; by the time you realize you need one, it's already too late. And I know I'm quite reluctant to waste precious XP on short-term gains that may turn out to have been wasteful in the long run; I won't speak for the other players. --Toram
*shrug* So don't get one. I won't be heartbroken. --MF
An alternate suggestion might be "Reflexive charms may be added to a combo by paying the difference in cost plus one xp per Charm in the combo prior to the addition." This strikes me as being the best of both worlds. The current rules are a bit too stringent, but you do want to put some limitations on combos. --szilard
If I were going to do something about this, it would be along those lines, but at this time, I don't feel it necessary. One of the PCs has a combo, because the player really wanted one. If the other players really wanted comboes, they'd get them too. --MF
  • Temporary Willpower is not limited by permanent Willpower; all characters have a maximum temporary Willpower of 10.
This was an attempt to reduce the incredible pressure to build characters with high Willpower even when that isn't appropriate to the character's concept, which is another of my major gripes against the Storyteller system. Unfortunately, it also reduced the pressure to increase Virtues, and most of my players hate the idea that their behavior might be limited by their Virtue scores. Some of them have asked whether they can buy down their Virtues.... I would not do this again in Exalted. It's probably a good house rule for WoD games, though. --MetalFatigue
In addition, it disproportionately benefits NPCs. Due to their relatively small amount of screen time, NPCs usually don't need to worry about rationing their temporary Willpower the way that PCs do. This also messes with the mechanical balance of charms and spells. When everyone has 10 WP, powerful charms and spells can be thrown around much more freely. We've now agreed to drop this house rule. --Toram
  • "Fire and Stones Strike" and similar effects which turn damage dice into autosuccesses do not affect 'ping' damage.
With the power combat rules in place, these effects makes ping damage abusively powerful; even one extra success on the hit roll will inflict 'Essence' levels of damage, regardless of the attack's strength or the target's soak. --Toram
The sole and entire purpose of "Fire and Stones Strike" is to affect ping damage. If it were considered to be a problem by the designers (who have playtested Power Combat a hell of a lot more than we have), they would have done something to it in the Power Combat Charm errata list. They didn't. It stays. --MF

Other Comments:

Sheesh, you have almost as many as me. Maybe more, since you have (mostly unfinished) subpages... I really ought to put all of mine around, so we can compare. I'm going to eventually do a rehash of the whole weapons + Armour table as well... I like lots of your rules though, I may borrow some to fix the things I havn't noticed yet. In addition, I left a suggestion, see above.

Actually... I might as well link, since they're mostly elsewhere. Formatting for Wiki and keeping two sources up to date is a bit of a pain though. You seem to think fairly alike, so you -might- find something useful over here. Of course, you might not, but feel free to look. Comments can be on the PHorum in question or on my userpage, either is fine. (But you'll have to register for the PHorum).
-- Darloth

Thanks, Darloth. I'm making some changes to my Solar Medicine rules, inspired by yours, but rather different. --MF
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